Filming on location may be obsolete before we know it.
Like a lot of people stuck at home during the pandemic, I watched a lot of TV. One show that made me sit up and take notice was the Mandalorian – now in Season 3. Not just because it’s a good show but because of the technology used to make it.
Much of the show was filmed in a studio with projected scenery and objects on the walls and ceiling. This idea isn’t new – for decades crew have been painting walls of sets to make a scene look bigger or more exotic.
A painted studio quickly loses its realism when a camera moves – your eye can tell when things aren’t moving the way they should – mainly because shadows and foreground elements don’t change when they are painted on a wall.
What makes The Mandalorian different is that as the camera moves, the background images move – corresponding to exactly what would be seen from any new camera position. Just like a video game. Using computers so fast they can make it look real. Shots are essentially finished right after the director yells ‘cut’. No need to composite green screen.
This enabled the producers of the Mandalorian to shoot in any location, or with sets they might not otherwise build. Lighting stays consistent ane realistic from take-to-take (perpetual golden hour), no disruption to a popular location, reduced logistics… the benefits list is long.
Just for big budget shows and movies? For now perhaps, but in the future, location filming might only be needed for specialty applications.
Here’s a video on how they did it: